Saturday, September 12, 2020

Wise & Delectable Things

 And then

the butterfly
rose, weightless, in the wind.
"Don't love your life
too much," it said,
and vanished
into the world.

- Mary Oliver

I've been working 12hrs/7dys and finally got a day off to do all the things adulting requires

- and -

some gardening in the rain when I spotted a chrysalis on the moon flower.

After I finished all my chores, I went back out to photograph the chrysalis and this freshly emerged Monarch was waiting for me. That’s TWO this year that I know of, after planting the pollinator garden last year. We are elated.

I'm glad I was able to take the cub fishing before the call came last month that it was all hands on deck until further notice.  I checked my email this morning and it looks like they are finally reducing hours to 8 1/2 x 6 dys/wk, which feels like a relief.  I'm looking forward to a normal work schedule, whenever that happens. 

May this note find you happy and well and loving your life as I am. 

A long shift.


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Sunday, June 28, 2020

The Silent, Beautiful

“Teach the children. We don’t matter so much, but the children do. Show them daisies and the pale hepatica. Teach them the taste of sassafras and wintergreen. The lives of the blue sailors, mallow, sunbursts, the moccasin flowers. And the frisky ones–inkberry, lamb’s quarters, blueberries. And the aromatic ones–rosemary, oregano. Give them peppermint to put in their pockets as they go to school. Give them the fields and the woods and the possibility of the world salvaged from the lords of profit. Stand them in the stream, head them upstream, rejoice as they learn to love this green space they live in, its sticks and leaves and then the silent, beautiful blossoms. Attention is the beginning of devotion.”  ― Mary Oliver, Upstream: Selected Essays 

Salvia and the web of L.Venusta

The pollinator garden that we started when we moved here is a kingdom of swoon.  The hummingbirds join me as I sip my morning latte.  The Cerulean Warbler is the star singer in the morning amongst a chorus of Chickadee, Bluebirds, Crow, Goldfinch, Robin and Cardinal.  Sometimes the damselflies visit, and that is always enchanting.

In the forest beside the lake, the Wood Thrush is my muse, while the hawk cries overhead and somewhere a Red Bellied Woodpecker.  It's best in the early evening when the frogs sing along too.

Something or other attacked my peas, and I don't think they will make it.  The rest of the garden, however, is hardy as hell.  I see what I can do differently and better, and made notes for next year.

Somewhere in there is Anise Hyssop, Mountain Mint and more...

Lavender, Goldenrod, and various Coreopsis / Tickseed

Pink Evening Primrose




Scarlet Bee Balm

PowWow White Coneflower

Swamp Milkweed

Butterfly Weed
Datura: Moonflower from Native Plant Festival 2019


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Sunday, June 21, 2020

Mine and His: Father's Day

Robert Cox 1959-2019

Another hurdle.  The first Father's Day without his father.  He said that he didn't want to think about it because it's too depressing.  I agree.  He wanted to get ice cream at the drive thru, so that's what we did. 

Everyone once in a while he tells me he's sorry because now he understands how painful it must have been for me when my father died.  He was only 49.  He had a successful bypass surgery and was on his way home to his celebration.  He died on the way home.  I still can't wrap my head around it. 

I can't wrap my head around any of this. 

Lenny Cook 1939 - 1988


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Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Late Fragment

And did you get what you wanted from this life, even so? 

 I did. 

 And what did you want? 

 To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the earth.” 

 ― Raymond Carver, A New Path to the Waterfall

It was a hard day.  He would have been 61 years old on Saturday.  Almost every year he would request Cherry Cobbler so that is what I would make.  S wanted me to continue to make it every year.  He also liked to go out to dinner on his birthday and since we couldn't do that due to pandemic we decided to get takeout.  We thought long and hard about what his father would have chosen, and we felt 100% confident that, in solidarity with BLM, he would want Jamaican Food to support black business owners.  SO, we ordered vegetarian plates from Island Delights in Winchester.

I had drive to WV yesterday for finger printing for a potential temp job.  The weather was beautiful so we decided we would take the yaks on the lake that evening.  While S fished, I explored the coves along the peninsula trying to find the source of the heavenly sweet scent in the air.  I didn't find it, but I did find honeysuckle and wild mint.

As the sun was setting we paddled back to shore.  We ate cobbler and called it dinner.

*A silly thing about the cobbler:  Every year I seemed to miss a pit and R was always the one to find it which S thought was wildly funny and deemed that whoever got a pit in their cobbler had good luck for the year.   This year, S helped by pitting the cherries for me.  We each got 2 pits in our cobbler.  He had such a laugh over it.


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Sunday, May 31, 2020


Our blueberries are ripening.  I remember when we bought the bushes 6 years ago, how tiny they were then.  Now one of them towers over me.  We had hoped to plant more as hedge when we had our own home, instead of raising them in pots on the deck.

Picking Blueberries, Asuterlitz, New york, 1957 by Mary Oliver

Once, in summer
in the blueberries,
I fell asleep, and woke
when a deer stumbled against me.

I guess
she was so busy with her own happiness
she had grown careless
and was just wandering along

to the wind as she leaned down
to lip up the sweetness.
So, there we were

with nothing between us
but a few leaves, and wind’s
glossy voice
shouting instructions.

The deer
backed away finally
and flung up her white tail
and went floating off toward the trees -

but the moment she did that
was so wide and so deep
it has lasted to this day;
I have only to think of her -

the flower of her amazement
and the stalled breath of her curiosity,
and even the damp touch of her solicitude
before she took flight -

to be absent again from this world
and alive, again, in another
for thirty years
sleepy and amazed,

rising out of the rough weeds
listening and looking.
Beautiful girl,
where are you?

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Saturday, May 30, 2020

Shel Silverstein II

May the poems be
the little snail’s trail.
Everywhere I go,
every inch: quiet record
of the foot’s silver prayer.
                I lived once.
                Thank you.
                It was here.

- Areclis Girmay , Ars Poetica

We took a walk to the lake so he could try out the carp tackle he received for his birthday.  On the way back we met Shel Silverstein II trying to cross the sandy trail.  I lifted him up and moved him to a safe location atop an oak leaf in the direction he was headed.

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Friday, May 29, 2020

Fifteen Rides Around the Sun

Dear Satchel,

Happy 15th ride around the sun!  You have now traveled eight billion seven hundred sixty million miles!  I feel the need to remind you of how far you've come because we are in the middle of a pandemic and have been sheltering in place for 77 days.  And I feel that it is especially important to shine a light on your boundless courage, strength and resilience. 

To do so I must honor the fact that the past year has been one of unimaginable loss.  Three months later we were amidst a 50 car pile up in ice and dense fog that we somehow (gratefully) made it through without a scratch.  Four months after that we are faced with a challenge of historic proportions. 

Despite this past year being, as you named it, "The Worst", you have remained calm and courageous throughout.  Your strength and resilience has been heroic.  Thank you for being you.

This past year you have made new friends, while at the same time nurturing your long time friendships.  This is a great gift.

In addition to keeping up with your traditional schooling, you teach yourself new skills by watching tutorials.  This is wise, because wisdom is not knowing all the answers, but rather asking the questions. As Einstein said, "Curiosity is more important than knowledge".  And you, my son, are so very good at remaining curious and creative. 

Your interests are expansive: fishing techniques, rebuilding, repurposing, recipes, music making.  I marvel at your creations...and your taste in music is superb.

Today is your birthday, and you are the greatest gift I've ever received.

Thank you, again and again, for picking me to be your mother.  Thank you for the reciprocal gift of unconditional love and for the many ways you show it. 

On this anniversary of your birth, may you know how deeply loved and admired you are.  I celebrate you!

 (for beautiful you are my world, my true)

Happy 15th ride around the sun, dear Satchel.
Thank you for being my son.

All my love,

(Posted at the time of your birth)

Dirt cake, as you requested.

Birthday wishes, the pandemic edition.
And Lorenzo sings his favorite song for his birthday!

Birthday flags and gifts upon the mantel.

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Sunday, May 17, 2020

Warp & Weft

"I believe in kindness. Also in mischief". - Mary Oliver

In this surreal and scary time, trying to weave a magical weft into the warp of minutia.  

The weft:  Taking him fishing, and building fairy houses for the kids to find.  Creating and hiding a geocache in a hollow trail marker tree.  Filling it with left over trinkets from his early birthday favors and his outgrown tiny treasures. 


The warp: Scanning a 25 page job application (not joking) to mail on Monday.  Checking the A/C to be sure it works for summer, and reprogramming the thermostat for the warmer days. Turing on outdoor spigots, while turning off the water to the humidistat.  Mowing the lawn ( No, my son will not not help, so please stop telling me that he should help.  I pick my battles, and don't want to spend my days arguing with a 14 yo every day. )  Caring for the seedlings.  Leaving messages with the DOI for my accountant.  Completing important documents like emergency plan, will and advanced directive.  And three hours each morning to restore years of missing photos to the diary because these are precious memories from his childhood.  It takes approximately an hour to repair one month.  I'm trying to repair three months each morning.

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Thursday, May 14, 2020

Good Days & Bad Days Look Like

losing through you what seemed myself, I find
selves unimaginably mine; beyond
sorrow’s own joys and hoping’s very fears
yours is the light by which my spirit’s born:
yours is the darkness of my soul’s return
–you are my sun, my moon, and all my stars”
- E. E. Cummings

Good days look like waking at 5 and hitting the mat and finishing in time to notice the mountains awash in a pink glow of sunrise. Then quietly padding downstairs to medicate Morty, make my latte and knock out a few months of diary restoration before doing a job search.  Good days look like relief when each missing photo is restored to a diary entry, and long ago memories revisited and also gratitude for the friendships made in those early days of motherhood, and for the opportunities and for the abundance of gifts received from a simple diary.  Good days is the realization that it was like a mother uprising and the way we all put ourselves out there, connecting to each other and the people who inspired us and how we made good shit happen.  Good days look like staring at my seedlings which pings the gratitude button in my heart. Good days look like a neighbor messaging me the coordinates to a patch of wild mint that she found while I make a note of the places I've found garlic mustard to forage. Good days look like gratitude for the nearby farm, and the mini farm growing on my deck. Good days look like gratitude for the gift of friendship, the messages, the surprises that arrive in mail, and how well my friends know me and the many ways they make me feel loved. Good days look like my son's joy for gaming with friends, and my relief that he at least has that during this horrific pandemic. Good days look like making fairy houses in the forest for the neighborhood kids to find while my son fishes, and listening to the song of a nearby wood thrush. Good days look like the scents of the understory that transports me back to moments of childhood, playing in the woods. Good days look like a text from a friend that reads, "you are the sun and moon", to which I reply, "and all my stars" because edward is my most beloved of all my favorite poets.

Bad days look like waking from nightmares from ICU, and that moment when I noticed the whites of his eyes through a sliver of lid, and the knowing that nobody was home in there except the machines. Bad days look like the anxiety of knowing that I am only parent left and I must do everything possible to protect my child and myself. Bad days look like crying over lost insurance due to inefficient archaic systems that took 6 months to reach my account and now will have to wait 6 mos for open enrollment. Bad days look like the fear of taxes owed due to what appears as though it's increased income due to survivor annuity, but it's not extra income because he died and I still don't have any income. 
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Sunday, May 10, 2020

Jai Maa!

Formed from the depths beneath your heart."

- John O'Donohue (To Bless the Space Between Us)

It's my first mother's day without his father.  It's strange.  There is no other way to describe it.  I imagine it's strange for my in-laws too, having lost Sheila in March.

In celebration my son made me a pot of his homemade Ginger Tea.  A recipe he's saved since Kindergarten.  It was delicious.  We took a walk in the forest and saw a school of ginormous carp.  He's now determined to catch one.

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Monday, April 20, 2020

Sometimes the Wind

“and sometimes the wind
has touched my cheek
like a spirit.” - Mary Oliver

Today, even with all its dreariness there are these moments with feathered kin that delight us. This is Captain Jack. He is a Chipping Sparrow, and is quite the singer.

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“Hope is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -"
- Emily Dickinson 
 I have never known what boredom feels like. I think it is a blessing. This morning I had a visit from Woodstock the Goldfinch and his lady, Goldiflocks. I also had a visit from Skye the Bluebird. I had a bunch of over ripe bananas in the freezer so I made Brown Butter Bourbon Banana Bread. I didn't have any bourbon so I substituted homemade Nocino, and chocolate chips because....chocolate. 
I remembered this one day after 9/11, the Red Cross was stationed on my corner and one of the workers stopped me. She offered me some m&ms. I started crying and said, "No thanks, I don't need them". She said, "I know you don't neeeeed neeeeed food and shelter and rest...but for the soul". I laughed. I didn't think I had a laugh left in me.

The great Alice Walker wrote, "Hard times requires furious dancing", I would like to add chocolate to that, and edible stars to float upon Juniper Tea, and a cup made by the hands of a dear friend in Ireland, and thrifted napkins that I dyed with indigo, and also...also...feathered hope.

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Tuesday, April 07, 2020

"If you want the moon, do not hide from the night.
If you want a rose, do not run from the thorns.
If you want love, do not hide from yourself."
- Rumi

Last night I stepped outside for a sip of moonlight and to take a quick photo of the moon. To put things into perspective I set my sights upon Tycho crater which is estimated to be 108 million years old, then I looked for Mare Serenitatis (Sea of Serenity) and there with gaze fixed on serenity, I spoke the Metta.

May you be peaceful
May you be happy
May you be well
May you be safe
May you be free from suffering


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Friday, April 03, 2020

Between Heart and Light

May it be its own force field
and dwell uniquely
between the heart and the light"
- John O'Donohue (To Bless the Space Between Us)

How are you? We are well and grateful for our wellness.  I am helping in ways I can and where I can and when I can.  I'm doing what I know to be good medicine for me to remain steady for my cub.  I can't believe that we lost R in August and now we are living in a pandemic.

I keep vigil for any moment of beauty no matter how small, like the visit from the goldfinch and I let that twinge of joy land lightly in my soul and I stay with it until it flies off to wherever it needs to go next, leaving me grateful for the brief respite.

It sounds crazy, but even though I've lost the part time jobs that took me months to find I care more about our lives right now than I do about a check...and that's not because I don't need an income, I desperately do, but our lives are not a commodity and there is something very wrong with a society where so few have so much, and so many have so little.

I decided that while we are home bound, we will not live by the clock. I've removed all screen time restrictions so my son can connect with friends and stay up late and sleep late which he normally doesn't do.

I put together that standing raised bed, and started my veg garden. I knitted a heavy blanket out of a gigantic yarn, that was on my to-try list for 2 years, using my arms instead of needles so it became a kind of dance or vinyasa. And I made paper blooms to fill vases. I'm trying to learn to sew masks.
I'm making the comfort food that my ancestors made, like my great grandfather's soup from Calabria. I'm making bread, and breaking bread, and keeping the cookie jar full. I'm bowing to the mountain when I finish my morning exercise. I'm opening the windows to let the valley wind sweep through the house so hard it slams door so I'm using large smooth stones that I collected from my late father's favorite beach on the north shore of long island to keep the doors from slamming. I'm using tech to my advantage and connecting with friends on the other side of the planet, their voices feel good in my ears and my eyes tear as we recount our memories across the span of years and ocean.

We are listening to Dan Bern and Lorenzo Bertocchini whenever we can connect. It lifts our spirits and as Lorenzo said, "they are songs but also prayers and we are distant but together".

I keep an led candle lit in the window each night where it will remain until this nightmare is over. I watch all the sunsets. I look for the planets, and whatever constellation I can identify. I make nectar, fill the feeder, and wait for the return of the hummingbirds. I listen for the conversations of birds that I can name without looking, like in childhood when I awoke to the voices of my elders and knew who was awake and at the table.

And when I feel the horror of this pandemic clenched around my ankles, I step out on the deck and breathe deep the moonlight, then I draw a bath, surround it with candles, and soak until the grip loosens and I once again feel steady on my feet. I fall asleep to my son's laughter as he plays games remotely with his friends. I long for the return of my own laughter, but I find myself tearful.

And I think that, just maybe, my tears are not only sorrow for the world, not only a reverence for the acts of beauty and love and courage that I am witnessing within this horror, but also maybe, a kind of salty rivulet of hope that for once this will push us all to a truer and more infinitely tender connection.


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Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Unexpected Joy

“If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, 
don’t hesitate. Give in to it.” - Mary Oliver 

Savoring moments of joy wherever I find them. Today it was a visit from Woodstock F. Goldfinch (the F is for festival). I named him Woodstock when I met him last summer because he flies much like the cartoon character which is amusing to watch and he sings a tune while flying that rises and dips as he does. Today he visited my blueberry bushes and peeped at me thru the window.

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